Sex … In or Out?

You’ve written a great story. Do you need sex amidst the guns, fighting and mayhem, the psychological trauma and mystery, or the tenderness and promises?

When I say ‘do you need sex’ I’m obviously referring to the requirements of the story—not your personal urges. I digress … .

This blog post was born from the need to offer my opinion on a regular comment I see on social media, and if we’re all honest, it’s getting a bit tedious. The comment usually follows similar lines to: ‘… and when I reach a sex scene I move on …’

There is usually a bit more to it, but in essence, we have two main areas to address.

Question 1 – Is the reader a prude, or simply someone who knows when a sex scene could have been done more tastefully—if it were needed at all?

Question 2 – Did the author make a mistake by getting carried away, drifting from the primary genre, thus adversely affecting the plot of the story?

The answer to Question 1 is not as simple as it sounds. For some readers, if an author goes beyond: ‘… she stood with her back to the door and raised an eyebrow …’ it’s too much. For others, it’s frustratingly brief, and they want to at least know if one person is wearing matching underwear and if the other person is wearing underwear at all.

Now, Question 2 throws up a whole new dilemma. As authors, it is not simply a personal choice, but in my (humble) opinion, it is our duty to remain true to our craft. No, I’m not getting high and mighty because I’ve written more than two books—I’m simply telling it like it is. The reputation of indie authors is being destroyed from within by some people with low standards. Those of us who work long hard hours and go beyond the first draft must persevere to produce the best we can.

You cannot refer to yourself in your branding or promotional material (of whatever level) as a thriller writer if you have the main character kill someone and then for the rest of the book he/she beds every other person in the ‘adventure’. You can dress it up, or undress it if you wish, but one of the aims of any author should be to focus on the job—in this case, a good story based on the primary genre.

I write a wide variety of genre and among them is erotica. I may allow a kiss or a caress—even partial undressing in some stories but graphic, no-holds-barred sexual activity is kept for my erotica.

If an author writes thrillers, westerns, sci-fi or other genres there ought to be sufficient time invested in character development, dialogue, imagery, pace and the accurate choreography of action. Any mention of sex will usually be incidental, except, of course, for romance, some paranormal and fantasy where it may go further.

An author who writes erotica is not out to shock—they are aiming to indulge their readers in the type of material they sought. This is not to say that character development and those other ingredients I mentioned earlier are not required in erotica—they are just as important. The erotica author must avoid sex becoming the ‘story’; an opportunity to be self-indulgent with repetitive and meaningless scenes of gratuitous carnal jiggery-pokery (mainly pokery).

In my ‘mainstream’ genres, there may be terms of endearment, a kiss or an embrace but they are strategically placed. Occasionally, in my erotica, there is less need for such romantic overtures, activity or subtlety. The characters might be more interested in mutual physical gratification than an emotional rollercoaster ride but there will still be character development and the activities are created with a purpose. It depends on the story.

I believe the author should strive to be faithful to the principle genre and whatever extended subjects it entails whether it be an action-packed or psychological plot, and plot or character-driven.

If you’d like to see ‘erotica’ as it once was, read ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’. Like most other genres, erotica has moved on and readers are no longer satisfied with what was once considered shocking—people want to envisage themselves in scenes which will (in most cases) forever be a fantasy. With the greatest respect D.H.Lawrence, move over my friend.

I’m a great believer in the use of metaphor if it spells something out clearly. I’ll summarise with two questions to authors who are trying to work out if sex ought to be highlighted in a story?

Would you wear flip-flops and boxing gloves to run a marathon, or perhaps mask, snorkel and flippers to ride a bicycle?

Let’s be honest—if it doesn’t look right, it doesn’t belong.

Thank you for reading, and any comments.

Beyond The Law: Retribution

Yes, it’s finally here. The sequel to Beyond The Law has been available on Amazon since 7th November. The original story was a joy to write, apart from being hard work at times, so it’s great to see it is still my best selling tale.Beyond The Law - the cover 2904

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In Beyond The Law: Retribution, it was great fun bringing Phil and his team back to life to create more crime-busting scenes, and the inevitable summary justice. As there were in the first book you will find good deeds, bad deeds, crime and punishment.

Apart from Phil, and the BTL team there are a couple of new faces, but to maintain balance, there are some old and new faces on the other side of the equation. Bad guys are easy to come by, but they have to be different. The BTL team now have a name and a new operations HQ.

BTL RetributionAllies and enemies come in many forms, and in this story you will find they don’t come any more different than a motorbike gang. The aroma of whatever they’re smoking, the feel of leather jackets, and the sight of long unruly hair and beards, combined with the power and noise of motorbikes.

Are they violent?

Well, of course they’re violentthey’re outlaw bikers.

Okay, so I opened by saying it was fun bringing back the original characters, but this is my first sequel and I found it hard work. Threading in enough, but not too much of the original story was difficult, so I look forward (with trepidation) to find out if I’ve created the right feel.

Map of Scotland, plan of BTL Enterprises HQ, and map of Glasgow.
Maps of Scotland and Glasgow. Plan of BTL headquarters.

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The titles above are linked to the pages of this blog which are dedicated to these two books, so if you haven’t read the blurbs, you can see them there. There are live Amazon links available there.

I’ll leave the links here to take you directly to Amazon, and then dear reader it’s up to you.

Beyond The Law

Amazon UK                    Amazon US

Beyond The Law: Retribution 

Amazon UK                    Amazon US

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Sales are always appreciated, as they are by any author, but I would also appreciate feedback. If you have the time, and hopefully enjoyed the story, please consider leaving a review.

That’s it for now. I’m off to work on my sci-fi anthology, and maybe read …